The Fell Pony is a British native breed descended from the Celtic pony and closely related to the Dales, Dartmoor, Exmoor and New Forest pony. The breed derived their name from the Norse word for hills. They were used as pack animals for the lead mines dotting the western slopes of the Pennines; when the mines closed, they became useful on the hillside farms as small draft animals, for transportation, herding sheep, and pleasure riding.
Yorkshire, Norfolk Trotter, and Welsh Cob blood was introduced to keep up with the demand for carriage driving ponies. Eventually, however, automobiles replaced carriages and the Fell Pony numbers dwindled. A century ago Clydesdale blood was introduced to add height and a draftier appearance. In 1922 the Fell Pony Society was founded to preserve the pure ‘old breed’ of pony, rather than allowing more cross-breeding to ‘improve’ it.
The Fell Pony should not exceed 14 hands and has a dignified head with a broad forehead, bright and intelligent eyes, small ears, a strong, medium length neck, and sloping, well-muscled shoulders. Their solid bodies have strong, deep backs, muscular legs with slight feathering, and well-shaped hooves with blueish colouring. The Fell is a tough breed that can live outdoors year-round, a common trait of moorland and mountain ponies.
Fell Ponies are usually black, brown, bay or grey. Chestnuts, piebalds and skewbalds are barred from the registry. A star and/or a little bit of white on or below the hind fetlock is acceptable, although an excess of white markings is discouraged, even though such ponies are still eligible for registration. They have good paces and an easy-going nature, although it can be peppered with a willful free spirit at times.
Fell Ponies are still used by farmers for herding sheep. They make a friendly all-round family pony for driving and riding, jumping, and Pony Club. Their stamina and sure-footedness makes them a good trekking pony for the tourism industry.
For more information, visit:
Fell Pony Society